The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Tuesday 10 September) published the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019.
The draft legislation reflects the Government’s commitment to introduce a stronger complaints procedure and charter for parents.
The proposed legislation will require that every school must publish and operate a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines published by the Minister.
These guidelines will be published after consultation with the education partners.
Minister McHugh said:
Building on the aim of this Government to use our economic success to build a fair and compassionate society, it is critical that the experience of our schools is one that is as positive, responsive and supportive as possible for students and their parents.
This new legislation will be an important step towards improving the experience of both students and parents in their engagement with schools. It will give mothers, fathers, guardians and the children in our schools a fair and clear system to make sure their voices are heard.
The overall aim is to improve the level of engagement between schools and students and their parents by inviting feedback, comment and observations from students and parents and by developing a listening culture in the school.
Under the legislation every school will be required to publish and operate a Student and Parent Charter which will declare to students and parents what they can expect from the school.
The charters will operate in accordance with national guidelines which will be published by the Minister following consultation with the education partners.
The Bill reflects the Government’s commitment to introduce a stronger complaints procedure and charter as it includes a requirement for schools to follow standardised procedures in dealing with grievances of students and their parents. These procedures will be set in the national Charter guidelines.
Minister McHugh said:
It will be similar to a customer service charter. Students and parents will know first-hand what they can expect from the school, how they can effect change and how they can influence and respond to school policies and practices.
It is a radical shift in how our schools engage with the community. Key to it will be a new focus on allowing students and parents’ views to be heard and to prevent issues arising while also ensuring the need for schools to address and resolve concerns as far as possible, at an early stage, and to ensure that grievances are dealt with efficiently, effectively and fairly, and as far as possible, in an informal manner.
Many schools already engage with students and their parents very well and can attest to the benefits for all of such positive engagement. For these schools, the legislation will help underpin and build on this work. But it will also help schools that have not been as strong in this area by providing a clear framework to guide them in establishing and implementing good practice.
Key provisions of the Bill:
The Bill includes provisions that:
- Require schools to have a Student and Parent Charter;
- Require the Minister to issue guidelines in accordance with which every school’s Student and Parent Charter shall be prepared, published and implemented;
- Set out the key matters that the Minister must have regard to when preparing the charter guidelines;
- Provide a power for the Minister to give a direction to a board where the Minister is of the opinion that a board has failed, or is failing, in whole or in part, to comply with its obligation to prepare, publish or implement a charter;
- Require the Minister to publish any direction issued and where applicable a notice of subsequent compliance;
- Amend Section 9 of the Education Act 1998 to include among the functions of a school:
- a requirement that a school must promote the involvement of students and their parents in the education provided to students and
- a requirement to ensure the implementation of its charter;
- Amend Section 27 of the Education Act 1998 to change the requirement on a student council from one of promoting the interest of the school to a requirement to promote the interests of the students of the school having regard to the characteristic spirit and polices of the school and the charter.
- Replace the existing section 28 of the Education Act with provisions that provide for the procedures for dealing with grievances of students or their parents relating to the school to be set out in the Minister’s charter guidelines.
The Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019, Explanatory Memorandum and the associated Regulatory Impact Analysis is available here: https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/student-and-parent-charter/student-and-parent-charter.html
Arrangements will now be made to present the Bill to Seanad Éireann.